Six steps to a fantastic playdate:
Setting up a play date
Ask your child who they like to spend time with, someone who they share common interests and personalities with. If you Have not met the child’s parents yet or don’t know them too well, introduce yourself and let them know that you would like to set up a time for your kids to get together. If your child is younger it might be a good idea to invite both the mother and child together. That way they will feel comfortable in a new environment and it gives you a chance to make a new friend as well.
It is extremely important that you ask the parents of the child you are having over, if they have any food or pet allergies as well as other special needs you should know about, such as asthma or a routine medication they take. (print this helpful chart)
Be a Planner
The best way to ensure a wonderful experience for your kids is with some careful planning.
Keep it Small:Try to limit play dates to one friend at a time. This way it won’t be overwhelming and nobody will feel singled out. Keep it manageable and fun.
Sharing Should be Fun:
It can be difficult for a child to grasp the concept of sharing. Leading by example by sharing with a friend in the presence of a child can be helpful.
Kids have a fantastic imagination which is great because they can easily keep each other entertained for a while, but be prepared with a few backup activities that involve everyone. Here are a few suggestions:
- play hide ‘n’ seek
- draw pictures on the driveway with sidewalk chalk
- Scavenger hunt
- play dress up
- put on a short play
- make creatures out of Play-Doh
- read a book
- play ball
Make the Parents feel welcome:
For younger children, parents usually would like to stick around. Show them around to help them get an understanding of their playdate surroundings. This will help their child feel secure and get comfy. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know your new friend better.
Easy on the TV!:
Try and limit TV time. Playdates are a great excuse for the kids to get some exercise! If it’s a nice day outside make up a small scavenger hunt list for “treasures” you might find in the back yard or park. Kids tend to have an easier time leaving when they have something to take home with them.
Make it Fun For All Ages:
This should be a fun experience for all so here’s some pointers to ensure a fun time for all the kids:
Prepare For a Snack Attack
The kids will get HUNGRY!…
Serve Healthy, Kid Friendly Snacks
You don’t need to go overboard with an entire buffet. Set out a plate of finger foods like whole wheat crackers and cheese or, a fresh plate of fruits and veggies such as strawberries, grapes, apple slices, baby carrots, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes are the perfect quick snack to keep them energized without the sugar rush.
You can even turn snack time into arts and crafts. Act as if you’re decorating cookies, using fun shaped cookie cutters on cheese slices and bread and spread peanut butter or cream cheese for the “icing” and use veggies like shredded carrots and chopped lettuce to create funny faces and designs.
Offer Healthy Drinks:
Water is the optimal choice when it comes to beverages for kids because there are no extra sugars or artificial sweeteners to worry about.
If you have a fruit trees growing in the yard such as an orange tree, you can turn it into a fun project and make some fresh squeezed orange juice with the kids.”
Make Good-Byes Gentle:
Saying goodbye to friends can be tough for kids, especially when they’re having a blast. Make the transition easier for them by keeping these three rules in mind:
- Give a Heads Up: For older kids, give them a “countdown”. Signal that the play date is coming to a close by giving them a heads -up 15 minutes before it’s about to end. Then another couple gentle reminders at 10 and 5 minutes. With a final “okay, it’s time to say Goodbye”.
- Leave time for Pick Up: As the play date winds down, have the children straighten up their play area by putting away games, markers, etc. Even toddlers can help pick up toys. This provides a cue to kids that the play date is wrapping up. Plus, it teaches teamwork and responsibility, while reinforcing good habits.
- Talk and Visit for a while: Before parting ways, ask the kids what they had the most fun doing. What did they like or dislike? Having kids share their experience brings closure to the play date. It also arms you with important information for planning your next one.